Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012...

As I sit here on the last day of 2012, I am wondering how I should summarise one whole year into a reasonably sized post...

2012 was a year of big, exciting and firsts for me. The first time I travelled outside of Sydney and Singapore to teach, the exciting new designs I made and all the amazing clients and students I met.

It was also the year when the reality of the cake industry really hit and I saw some friendships go sour, people fighting it out online and the competition in the market get tougher.

But moving on... I am excited to be travelling more in 2013 and have the wonderful opportunity to teach in Europe this time around. I am working on some cool new projects which I hope all of you will like and I can't wait to share them with you.

For now I will leave you with some of my favourite cakes from this year.

I just love the elegant design idea for this cake and how it tells a story about the couple without needing anything extra.

My 2012 entry for the Sydney Royal Easter Show. She got second place :)

One of the first more complex structured cake I made and had the pleasure of teaching overseas.

This cake lights up, spins and plays music... thought I'd try something a little more out there with this design :) The video can be found here.

One of the biggest wedding cakes I have ever made. So much fun and I loved it so much I didn't want to deliver it.

Another fun and challenging cake I made this year. This was initially made all in styrofoam and then when I took a step back I realised it could mostly be made out of real cake anyways. This is real cake version made by my wonderful assistants Joanne and Tatiana.

The biggest class we have ever run... ever - Jakarta, Indonesia.

The first time I had a 'wow' moment. "Wow this was my design from my head and it has now all been reproduced and interpreted by 18 different people and how cool does it all look together?!"

This is still one of my favourite student designs of all time. So creative :)

Another one of my favourite student designs.

This one too. I love how she choose to do the 'bad' character and themed the cake around that instead.

And finally, the highlight of my year... I had the most amazing opportunity to learn from Mike from Mike's Amazing Cakes  this year and everything I learnt was invaluable. He not only taught me how to make an amazing cake, but also how to be a better teacher too. I am hoping to be able to go back again one day soon!

Thank you all for your support and kind words throughout the year! See you in 2013 :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Epic Asian Adventure - Nov and Dec 2012

Would you believe if I told you that it was only two years ago around the same time of the year that I ran my very first class outside of Sydney. I was so nervous about the classes I was going to run in Singapore and so worried wondering if I have chosen to do the right thing.

Food from home... yum!!

Basic Intensive class in Singapore - Nov 2012

Teaching to decorate in a different country/ climate with different materials and tools is not easy. Unlike in Sydney where everything is within reach and in my control, being overseas means trusting my host completely to be my eyes and ears in that country. I have to trust that I have related all the necessary tools and equipment correctly, that the venue will be set up comfortably, the cakes are baked correctly, enough ganache is made, that they manage student enquiries and that the class is also marketed well.

I love her hair!

Topsy Turvy Wave Cake Singapore - Nov 2012

A good host pretty much ends up becoming my right hand. They question why I have listed certain items, offer to replace other items with local alternatives (so that students will easily be able to replicate the cakes at home), and are also intuitive enough to ask about the details because they know it matters (24g wire... do you want green or white?).
Lifted Wedding Cake Class, Singapore - Nov/Dec 2012

Cheeky Teddies Class, Singapore - Dec 2012

When it comes to these overseas classes I think sometimes I'm also surprised by how many different materials are needed and how much set up is required. Thankfully, I've had the best hosts who are all like my other half. Sometimes, when I look around during a demo, before I even say what I am looking for, they are already handing it to me :) They know I take my coffee without sugar, I can't take very spicy things, I love fried chicken wings from the little store on the corner and also have a soft spot for pastries from the local bakery (especially the banana and mushroom ones - those are separate pastries by the way!). All this without me saying much, I am so touched :)

Basic Intensive Class, Jakarta - Dec 2012
Teddy in the Snow Class, Jakarta - Dec 2012. My biggest class (which I facilitated) to date with just over 30 people! This is the launch of a special new project with Heavenly Sweet and more details about it will be announced in the New Year so stay tuned!

All the lovely and talented ladies. Thank you all for making the time to attend and for all the yummy food and generous presents you brought.

The students in Jakarta always go all out to be creative :)

Over the last two years, I have learned so much from my students and the experience with being able to do cakey things in different countries with local ingredients is invaluable. I've seen all sorts of things happen to cakes (I'll be honest, sometimes when a student has a problem I am really scratching my head wondering HOW in the world they managed to get that particular result. I don't mean that the work is bad, but more different and something I have not seen before) and as a result I have learned to troubleshoot well. Sometimes a student will ask me 'why is this happening to my cake?' and I have no answer but 'good question, I have no idea but let's work it out'. I don't have the answer to all things cake related but together we learn...

So I don't think it's wrong for me to say that my students have also been teaching me a thing or two over the years :)

Elly and Bunny Class KL, Malaysia - Dec 2012

I think this has got to be my favourite version of Elly and Bunny of all time :)

Love his expression!

Cheeky Teddies Class, KL, Malaysia - Dec 2012

But this teaching trip has been the longest I have ever been away - 4 weeks in total in Singapore, Jakarta and KL. And if I could sum it up in one word it would be EPIC. No wait, I take that back, if I could sum it up in one word it would be EXHAUSTING, followed closely by EPIC. With a total of only 4 days off during the whole month, I was exhausted. 

Me with my oldest student ever. This is Sheryl's mum and at 68, she had never attended a class and everything she had learned until my class was through observation of Sheryl's work. She was amazing and did everything by herself. I can only hope when I am her age I have the same amount of energy and determination as her.

But I love what I do too much to care when I wake up the next morning. I get so much joy out of watching students try and achieve new things and it makes me the happiest when students tell me after class that they had fun and that they learned lots.

So, there is organised and then there is ORGANISED... this is Sheryl my KL host taking it to a whole new level. She pre-covered all the cakes for the students, pre-mixed the gumpaste colours and also individually weighed and packed each colour. Then she proceeded to cut all the necessary wires and individually group them by size and colour, allocated stamens and if that was not enough, sorted out a pack of these materials for every single student.

See what I mean? This is how she set up each student's work station the day before. I feel spoilt!

I know it's hard to organise time off, especially at this time of the year when days off are very precious. So thank you from the bottom of my toes to all the students who took time out from their business, families and jobs to travel (by car and plane) and come to class. I will always be grateful because without all your kind words and support I would not be able to continue doing what I do. I promise to always make sure you continue learning something new each time in class. I might just have to pull some new tricks out of my cake basket next year ;) Until then, I continue looking forward to seeing all of you in class!

Spring Time Flowers Class, KL, Malaysia - Dec 2012

Sheryl and Me... Look! I even got a certificate from her for teaching :) how cool!

And finally, thank you to my lovely hosts Artistiq Sugarcraft (Singapore), Heavenly Sweet (Jakarta) and Buns in the Oven Cupcakery (KL, Malaysia) for all your hard work, organisation and believing in my work plus giving me the opportunity to teach with you. I look forward to a bigger and more awesome 2013 with all of you!

If you are interested in any of my future classes in the above cities, please contact the relevant hosts and they can place you on a mailing list.

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